$20,000 reward offered for stolen Civil War rifle

09/28/18 10:22 AM | by

1860 Henry Repeating Arms Rifle stolen from the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA in February 2016. (Photo: Christine Vendel/PennLive)

1860 Henry Repeating Arms Rifle stolen from the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA in February 2016. (Photo: Christine Vendel/PennLive)

Police in central Pennsylvania offered a $20,000 reward this for week for information about a stolen 1860 Henry Repeating Arms rifle.

The rifle and two revolvers went missing from the National Civil War Museum in February 2016 after a thief smashed a glass display case with a sledgehammer. The Henry rifle, on loan from a private collector, originally belonged to Abraham Lincoln’s first Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, and bears an engraving with his name.

Harrisburg City Police estimate its value between $400,000 and $500,000, according to PennLive.

Investigators believe the suspect recognized a vulnerability in the layout of the museum, prompting the heist. Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse — an outspoken critic of the museum’s “financial drain” on the city’s resources — criticized officials for failing to consider the added security risks posed by rarity of the firearms.

The thief also stole this set of Colt revolvers that was presented to the Secretary of War Simon Cameron in 1861. They were stolen with their original wooden box. (Photo: Christine Vendel/PennLive)

The display, sponsored by a $25,000 grant from the National Rifle Association, sat on the first floor of the museum near a window. Typically, Papenfuse said, the guns remained locked away on the second floor, behind additional doors and other layers of security. He also complained about the museum’s outdated surveillance cameras — many of which lacked any recording capabilities.

“It is my opinion that they should’ve used some of the proceeds from the NRA grant to at least make sure the exhibit was secure,” he said. “The museum knew its cameras weren’t recording and proceeded with the exhibit anyway.”

Gene Barr, vice president of the museum board, told PennLive the mayor’s concerns were valid. “All of this is a balancing act. We wanted to have the exhibit in a room that would bring people in,” he said. “The balance is always how much do we give up to make these items accessible?”

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